Thursday, December 30, 2010
We've been driving all over the place and have seen tons of NZ. We did not go to Christchurch, so if you were reading about the aftershocks that have been rocking the city don't worry about us. Thats not why we didn't go, though. We didn't go because I was talking to a local about our plans and mentioned Christchurch and he said, "Don't go to Christchurch, its rubbish. Just another town, innit? Fulla shops." Then he grabbed a map and showed us a way to go that would be much better, to see "Real New Zealand." So we took him up on his suggestion.
Spent the last two days driving through the mountains and being blown away. I've taken to pulling over at pullouts just so I can really get a look at our surroundings. Epic. Everything about this country. The mountain roads and fantastic and Captain Slow (the caravan, remember?) and I are working together very well to get us through. I still have motorcycle jealous and haven't seen a rental place, which is either good or bad.
Yesterday we stopped at a tiny little mountain town called Reefton which isn't in any of our guidebooks but Angela had found a brochure for them at an iSite (place for tourists full of information on the surrounding area) we stopped at. They are having a Summer Festival and yesterday was Reefton Trots, so we checked it out. Pretty cool. Horse races but the jockeys ride on little chariots behind the horse. We didn't bet. We couldn't understand the slip. All of Reefton was out, some in their race day finest, and that was cool to see. Told one teenage girl we were from Hawaii and she turned to her friend and did the little excited arm flap and exclaimed, "Hawaii!" Oh yeah, you probably don't get many tourists here. Cool.
The food here is excellent (helps that Angela is cooking it). Still shopping as local as possible. She has bag of yarn and a few slabs of lamb in the camper so when we pass sheep on the road she says to them, "I have summa you in here with me!"
This has been a lot of fun so far. The caravan isn't as cramped feeling as I thought it was going to be. Today is New Year's Eve and we'll be spending it at camp, relaxing. Should be very nice.
Miss and love all of you (except for you, you know who you are). Happy New Year!
Sunday, December 26, 2010
We've been having a great trip. Aukland was awesome and there was some great cuty hiking to be done, which got did. Some shopping, siteseeing, and other touristy stuff also got did. Very much the fun.
About five days ago we picked up our caravan, who I have named Captain Slow. The Captian is an excellent vehicle and a welcome addition to our adventure. Adventure sometimes equals learning to drive on the wrong side of the road, from the wrong side of the car, shifting and using turn singals with the wrong hands, and doing all this for the first time in the middle of a major city. But we aren't dead! I think I'm doing rather well, actually. Except for occasionally using the wipers to signal a turn or *splash splash*ing the windshield to let the person in front of me know they have space to come over. (Note: If you do this, your wofe who you love will laugh at you about it for the rest of the trip. "Haha, splash splash.")
Camping has been fun and with the expetion of last night we haven't had any trouble finding a campervan site. So far all of our camping, again expect last night, has been in camping parks. We expect to do some free camping down on South Island, where it might be a little more open and feasible.
We tried to Sype home on Christmas (yours, not ours). McDonalds, "Bringing America's Obesity to the World," has free Wifi, which we learned from a nice Dutch couple we camped next to for a night. "Go for the internet, not the food," he told us. Well, for whatever reason McD's wifi and Angela's Skype on her phone doesn't work together. So Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all back in the states and pretend that you're talking to us on the phone saying that.
New Zealand is beautiful, as everyone knows from Lord of the Rings. That, by the way, seems to be the biggest movie in the world here. LotR stuff is everywhere. But no hobbitts yet. We will find them, those filthy nasty Hobbittses, yes we will. Thinking about hiking around Mount Doom when we get back to North Island.
We've done two museum, getting our culture on. We've taken over 600 pictures, which we are going to painstakingly go through with each and every one of you untl you feel like you were right here with us the whole trip.
Kiwis are almost clichely friendly. The worst service we've had in a restaraunt so far has been because our server was an American import from...wait for it....Texas! Ohhh, thank you for playing. But smiles, help, and wonderful accents from everyone else. I love listening to these people talk!
On our city hike through Aukland we passed the Aukland Grammer School, a massive all boys public high school. We wandered through just to get a look at it (and because when teachers visit other countries they have to see what schools look like) and accidently met up with the deputy headmaster (vice principal). The school is on Christmas holiday, like ours, but he was so proud of it he stopped what he was doing and gave us a full on tour. Amazing. My mind is blown both by the school and by Dep. Headmaster John hooking us up like that.
I'm suffering from an acute case of bike envy and bike sad and bike jealous. New Zealand's Ministry of Transportation does not believe in roads that cut through the landscape, opting instead to flow over and with the countryside. This means everything takes longer to get through but you don't care because the road is bendy and beautiful the whole time.
Angela has sampled some of the local wines (yes dad, we are keeping notes and there will be a full report) and says they are all very good. We've been going out of our way to be sure to buy almost exclusively New Zealand-grown and made food, and so far all of it is excellent. Such good stuff.
We visited Sheepworld (of course), Devonport, Rotorua, and a bunch more places too numerous to name. We pass sheep constanly grazing on the side of the road, and open field cattle too (Matt, we moo at them and think of you). I've been journaling and have pages and pages and pages filled.
Ok, I'm going to wrap this up. Merry Christmas, Happy Boxing Day, and Happy New Years to all. Think in metric for us. We aren't dead! Yay!
Friday, December 17, 2010
-Could you please get rid of Don't Ask, Don't Tell? I'm tired of reading about it in the papers, tried of people trying desperately to justify how it might hurt our fighting ability, and tired of the defenders of the Land of the Free not actually being, you know, FREE. (Really, you should get over yourselves and let the gays marry already too. I'm looking at you, Hawaii. This is bullshit.)
-Could you also please pass the 9/11 First Responders Bill? It's disgusting that it hasn't happened yet. These people are sick and dying and not getting any help and you are bickering about tax cuts for the upper 1%. Which reminds me...
-Fuck the Rich. Fuck them in their stupid asses. They should be paying more taxes. These rich, white mutherfuckers do not need the Bush era tax cuts. I realize I'm behind the eight ball on this because the Dems already pussyed up, but still.
-Get rid of the Jersery Shore people's fame. Their fifteen minutes has to be up by now, why haven't they gone away? Why is one of them, The DoucheNozzle I think he's called, on the cover of Men's Fitness? This is insulting for all of us.
-Stop. Making. 3D. Movies. Just stop it. I blame James Cameron for bringing it back, and it was pretty cool in Avatar, I have to admit. But it's over now. It's been over for six months. When I get back I don't want to be offered $15 glasses so I can leave the movie with vertigo and a headache.
-The Palin should be eaten by a bear and her crew should catch it on film and the 24 hour news networks should loop it at least until my plane lands. That's not so much a To Do as it is a Christmas wish, but it belongs on the list.
-This one is for the parents. Parents, Holiday break does not mean its time for your kids to not read, write, or do math for three weeks. Their brains are little Etch-A-Sketches right now and if they shake too hard all the things we've been trying to draw will go away. Get the child a book for Christmas and watch them read it. Then ask them real questions about it. Make them do running totals in the supermarket. Anything to keep those little brains off life support.
-Don't go see the new Fockers movie. It only encourages them to make movies based solely on how the title will read on the poster.
-Leave Mike Vick alone. He went to jail for his crime, get off his back. There are plenty of potential felons actively playing today to jump on. Here's hoping he makes it deep enough into the playoffs to be torpedoed by Andy Reid's horrible decision making. And while we're on the subject of the NFL, stop carrying on about it being a "man's sport" and how the guys are "gladiators." Fuck that. Where are the lions on the field then? That'll screw up Brady's pass protection. The NFL should stop talking about an 18 game regular season and stop giving lip service to helmet to helmet hits and concussions. NFL Cares needs to be a real thing. Also, while I'm gone I'd like at least one Sure Thing to fall completely apart. And I'd like the Favre to announce his retirement, then have his leg cut off by his riding tractor after he falls beneath it while fainting from the shock of Jen Sterger serving him with a lawsuit.
-I'd like Phillies fans to crow just a little bit louder about their pitching line-up because that will make them losing in the first or second round all the sweeter.
-At least two good bands should book shows on Oahu for the coming year. Someone I care about and who isn't so old my parents could have gone to see them when they were my age.
-And a small part of me would be really amused if Facebook completely crashed after we spent the entire year worshiping Zuckerberg. So, even though I enjoy the Facebook, that would be neat.
Ok, America. I realize there are a lot of things on this list that you need to get done and you only have three weeks to do them, but I believe you can. This is a lot of responsibility I'm leaving with you while I'm away. New Zealand is going to be asking about you and I'm going to tell them about all the wonderful things you're getting done without my supervision.
Love and Kisses,
P.S. Really, DADT and the 9/11 Bill would be a great start. And the Palin/bear thing. Thanks.
Tuesday, November 30, 2010
Also happening this holiday season is the fake uproar over the new security measures TSA is implementing all over the country. Everywhere grown people are getting to act like children because the government is trying to keep them safe. "You want to scan me? HELL NO! What? Then you're going to frisk me? How dare you! By the way, what are you doing to keep my plane safe?" The whole thing is much ado about nothing as far as I'm concerned. We like to complain, TSA has a lousy customer service record, and those who complain loudest get the most air time. Perfect storm of lazy news coverage. The truth? Those opt-out protests, much like the Don't Buy Gas on X Day fake protests, didn't happen. No person with a plane ticket in their pocket is going to make it more difficult for themselves than it already is to get from where they are to where they want to be. The brief fame of the, "I'll have you arrested," dummy has faded and we are accepting this change as we have accepted so many before. You have a choice: get scanned or searched OR don't fly. Which plane you getting on? The one where everyone got searched or the one with 400 unsearched, unscanned flyers on it?
I, for one, was excited about the prospect of being scanned and/or patted down. This is science fiction, folks! This is that scene in Total Recall when Ah-nold goes running through the scanner at the airport (spaceport?) and we see his skeleton with the gun! We don't have flying cars, lightsabers, or transporters, but we have body scanners. That's close enough to being in the future for me. And I should be worried that some guy in a room somewhere is looking at a unclear scan of me that kind of shows me without any clothes on? Oh no! Quick, where's my lead Under Roos? That'll teach those perverts who obviously signed up to be airport security on the off chance they might get to check out digital renderings of random people. Think about the last time you were at the airport (or anywhere public in America). How many of those people would you want to see naked? Right.
As for being patted down, who cares? I'm fit and I have negative personal space (I'm not comfortable unless I'm invading your space). Feel me up. Its going to take four seconds and I'd rather a good, thorough job be done than a half-assed, "Missed the knife, dumbass" job. So get up in there. What sucks more, really? That I have to stand there for an enhanced pat down for four seconds or that this poor schmuck who just signed up for a minimum wage gig was told in a staff meeting two weeks ago that his six hour shift will be spent touching the junk of every other fat ass coming through the airport? His job blows. Shoulda finished that GED, bro.
But did I get any of that? No! I had to take off my boots, throw my belt in the plastic basket, and walk through the old metal detector like this was August 2001! WTF? I finally did get scanned in SeaTac on the way home and it was faster, easier, and so anti-climactic I almost asked for my money back. I didn't feel microwaved and am patiently waiting for my radiation-induced superpowers. Now if I can just figure out a way to get felt up next time...
Friday, October 15, 2010
It seems that along with all the other families were getting together to prepare to greet the miners as they were brought up, one guy's wife came.
So did his girlfriend.
By the time the guy reached the surface his wife was gone, but the girlfriend was still there.
Personally, if I was that guy and I found out that was happening I would have asked to stay down, just to keep an eye on the hole.
Thursday, September 16, 2010
Saturday, September 11, 2010
The assembly is held around our flagpole. We sing patriotic songs, have speakers, and wave little paper flags the kids cut out and colored. And are surrounded by men and women in uniform. Afterwards we go back to class and they get to hang out for a nice brunch.
But I don't want to write about all that. I just want to give a snapshot of a moment that touched me. Please indulge.
Picture this: 900 students, pre-kindergarten through sixth grade, gathered in a semi-orderly oval around a flagpole. Scattered throughout are uniformed parents who have choosen to stand with their child rather than have their child come to them outside the circle. In the front two kinders sword fight with their flags until the scary man teacher growls at them to knock it off. The color guard raises the flag and every uniform snaps to salute. Over the speakers, "Proud to be an American" starts. The students have been practicing the song and start to sing along. One of my students, a little girl, stands proudly next to her father. He is in camo fatigues, kneeling next to her. She put her arm around him, resting her hand on his shoulder. While she looks up at the flag and sings, he looks up at her with a small smile on his face.
Friday, August 6, 2010
And on that note: Go judge in CA! Loved the ruling, loved the way you worded it. Hell yeah. I redirect your attention to my Open Letter to Social Conservatives. Told ya so. Hope it sticks this time.
Monday, July 26, 2010
Anyway, I kept right on hopping, bopping, popping, stopping, shopping, and mopping along down the road. Not too far after that I was accosted again, this time by an albino monk seal wearing the most fantastic hat I have ever seen. I would try to describe it to you, but I would not be able to do it justice. Also, don't try to imagine it because there is no way your imagination could match the awesome that was Mr. Toadstool's headwear. Mr. Toadstool, that was the albino monk seal's name, asked me if I had the time. I wondered the time for what and asked. He shook his head, his whole neck really (which you would know if you've ever had the pleasure of watching a monk seal indicate the negative), and restated his question by asking me if I knew what time it was. I did. He was sad I did for if I hadn't he would have been able to show off the brand-spanking new (how is something brand-spanked exactly) he had strapped to his flipper. I apologized, of course and told him that if he would like he could restate his query once more and I would answer in a fashion more appropriate for his needs. He sighed that it was too late and the moment had passed and then flip-flopped his way down a nearby alley. This was sad really as I have never seen a watch strapped to a flipper and now I suppose I never will.
Just then the demon in my pocket began to clamor for my attention. I had been ignoring it all day on account of this quite annoying bill collector who had been trying to contact me. I swear, miss two or three payments on your hydropyrodynamic insulating blue lettuce aggregateor and they just won't leave you alone. Rather than answer I pulled the demon from my pocket and flicked him squarely and firmly on his not unsubstantial nose. This, as you could expect, angered my little red friend and he began waving his hands all over preparing some demoniacally evil spell which he cast in my general direction. Having a demonic spell cast at you is somewhat disconcerting, you would think. And you would be right most of the time. But not this time. This time you would be dead wrong. Because my demon, along with being such a small fellow, is also not very good at his devil-making ways. That's why he was demoted (or demon-moted as he likes to quip) to pocket demon. So his spell bounced harmlessly off a button on my shirt, turning it into a small flower. He managed to look pleased with himself. After all, how easy would it be for me to button and unbutton (flower and unflower) my shirt now. He had caused a Grand Inconvenience.
I choose to ignore the flowering of my shirt button and returned him to my pocket where he could rant and rage to his black heart's content. It was then that I noticed an unattended two-wheeled conveyance on the side of the road. Looking left and right, north and south, up and down, left and right again (you can never be too careful), I stole away on it. It had been quite a day and nothing lighted a day up like a little mischief. I couldn't think of any mischief which is why I instead settled on theft.
As always happens, as soon as I'd committed theft-in-place-of-mischief mischief sprang to mind. There, right in front of me, was old Mr. SillyFingersMcGeestien. He was always so mean to me and Jujube (my pet, if you remember)! Once he even chased us down and hung us by our littlest toes while he played “It's a Small World After All” on the saw over and over and over and over and over and over again. I can't even remember now what we had done to deserve such harsh treatment. Oh wait, maybe it was because we painted the windows of his house black and then set his cabbage on fire. Or maybe it was because we danced on his rooftop in high-heeled Beatle boots all night long the day after his prized petunias had mysteriously dissapeared. (That wasn't us, we don't do dissapearing petunias. I have it on good authority that it was Grande the Greek Geek that did the dissapearing. We paid him to.)
Anyway, mean old Mr. SillyFingersMcGeestien was in my sights. I prepared myself for serious mischief levels and, as I passed him, shouted out that his parents never loved him and he was adopted and his sister would never return his phone calls. All of these things were true, which I knew from opening his mail, and I felt quite smug about my total burn.
Unfortunately, my total burning of Mr. SillyFingersMcGeestien distracted me from my piloting of my bi-wheeled method of transportation. It wasn't until I turned back to facing the front, which happened to be the direction I was headed since these things are no good for going frontwards sideways, that I saw I was headed directly towards a Cream Cheese Hole! Now, since you are a learned person, as I expect you are, I don't need to describe the appearance of a Cream Cheese Hole nor do I have to describe what fate awaited me upon impact. This is quite nice as describing these things would put back into the mindset I was in at that time and that is nearly almost quite as bad as being there the first time, which I also was and wouldn't want to be again.
Needless to say, I didn't make my date with Jujube that night and spent several days wandering the far reaches of the cosmos in search of a wet nap and fourteen oddly-shaped rocks. Sometimes it's just not worth leaving the Batcave.
Monday, July 12, 2010
A few days ago I happened upon the new Rush documentary, Beyond the Lighted Stage. I found out about it earlier this summer and my inner (and outer) music nerd lept for joy. It's not a filmed concert, it's an actual documentary about the history of Canada's greatest export! I need this dvd, right? I need it. Must have. After all, it's not like if I waited a month it would be out on Netflix and I could queue it up and watch it. Oh, wait...But Netflix makes me send it back. If I own it I could watch it whenever I want. That's what's important. It can be on my time. After all, a person could watch a documentary dozens of times, right? Actually, I could. Especially one about Rush. So I bought it. I took it home, unwrapped it, read the liner notes, and carefully put it on the shelf with my other music-related dvds. That's where it goes. Near every spoken word dvd Henry Rollins has ever released, next to Slayer's concert film, just to the side of my Dream Theater live double disc dvd, and, well you get the idea. It certainly wouldn't go up by the science fiction section, or the Ah-nold section, or the Kevin Smith section. It goes with music. Duh. All the music-related dvds I've bought and watched, er, dozens of times over the years.
* sigh *
Why do I own these things? Why can't I leave a book store without at least one paperback under my arm? How come music stores seem to have a hypnotic power over me, making me sure to accidently find the album that I kinda was thinking about maybe checking out someday and look it's even a decent price ok I'll buy it? Do I need these things? I know I don't need-need them, not in the food, water, shelter kind of way. But in the happy to own them way I do. Books are the killer. Libraries abound. They are free. I could go in, find a book or three, take them home, read them, and then return them. I used to do just that all the time. Before I had a job. But I don't want to take them back. I want to have them.
I'll let you in on a little secret: I've always wanted to have a room in my house that was a massive library. One room, wall-to-wall book shelves stuffed with books. Tall, like you need a ladder to get to the top few shelves tall. With a few big comfortable chairs to curl up in. Perfect. And I need a lot of books to fill this imaginary room that only exists in my head because I'm a teacher and will never make enough money to actually have a house like that. And it would be cool to have a similar music/movie room as well.
This summer I moved a bunch of stuff from California, where my parents had been storing it for three years, to Hawaii. I should be more specific. I moved my collections of music, movies, and the rest of my books to Hawaii. Why? 1) Because I want them near me in case I want to read/listen to/watch them, even though I don't know if I will. I am one of those people that goes, “Oh, I read this book seven hundred years ago and I own it and I think that I'd like to read it again right now.” So...there you go. Pairing the stacks down was hard. And 2) So that when I move away I can put all these things back into a different box and pay for them to go back to the mainland. And so that we can go buy more bookshelves on which to display them.
I think that last sentence really gets to the crux of this whole issue. I try to shed as much of my inner bullshit as possible, which takes a lot of asking myself the all important Why and trying to give a real answer. And that's the answer I came up with. I like having them on display. My ego gets a huge kick out of showing off these things. It says, “Look! Look at my superior taste. Gaze upon these books which I have read which you have not read. Gasp in wonder at the rare and highly important bands which I listen to. Look at my films and understand what a deep person I am.” And I know that my ego is full of shit. But I can't help it.
But I understand now why I do it.
It's how I judge you.
When I go to a new person's house I do three things. First I will scan for your bookshelf. I will then make my way towards it and evaluate you based on its contents. Do we have things in common? Do you have Azimov, Heinlein, Moore? Can I see any Clarke or Gladwell? Perhaps some King or even Rowling? Any Rollins or Shakespeare? This part is normally easy. Most people have bookshelves out where they can be seen and easily gotten to. Hopefully they have more than one. With the advent of the e-reader judging people like this might eventually get more tricky, but I'm not worried. People won't get rid of most of their books. You can learn a lot about a person from their personal library. At least, I hope you can.
Next, I'll try to find your music collection. This is becoming harder and harder. If you still cling to CDs, as I do, I will thumb through them, looking for Aerosmith, Metallica, Kings X. God help you if I can't find any Beatles. How extreme, how varied, is your taste? But now many people have gone digital. Getting someone to let me look at their iTunes account is trickier and sneeking a look at it seems more openly invasive, like a scene from a Ben Stiller movie where things just get worse and worse and worse and worse until you leave the theater because god that kind of comedy really isn't funny sometimes.
Lastly (normally), I find your movies. You must own at least one Star Trek movie, don't you? Do we have similar tastes in film? Any Kevin Smith? What actors do you seem to favor? Any director that keeps popping up? What's your sense of humor, Bill Murry or Judd Apatow? Do you have any documentaries or concerts on display? Are you an indy nerd?
And recent;y I've gotten in to video games so if I see you have a system, I'll judge you on the games you play too.
Let me be clear: I am under no illusions that this works, that I can really learn anything important about anyone by looking at their various media. But it gives a pretty good surface look, doesn't it? Lets me know if our tastes are similar. When there's a lull in conversation can I fill it with a Spinal Tap quote?
And that's why I like having my stuff out, why I like buying stuff. I assume, in my ego and self-centeredness, that everyone else does the same petty shit I do.
My toys are my way of saying, This is my basic me, this is the Me I want to expose to the world first. So I go out and spend money, knowing full well that it's silly. But hey, it could be worse. I could judge you, and want you to judge me, on the looks, sexual orientation, occupation, or religion.
See, now judgment based on books, movies, and music doesn't seem so bad.
Tuesday, June 22, 2010
Dear Frightened Ones,
I know why you're afraid. I do. And I'm here to tell you that we all want you to let go of your fear. Sometimes you need to accept that which you cannot change. And this you cannot change: The gays will marry. It will happen in my (and probably your) lifetime. You can try to fight it all you want. You can vote it down. But it won't die. It can't. Because the war for gay rights is all but over and you've lost.
You can feel it, can't you? That the world has moved on. That your children, or maybe your younger friends, your coworkers, the people you go to (gasp) church with, are ok with the gays and their insidious plot to live together in love and harmony. That soon, sooner than you think, enough of you will die off or see the light and then this whole silly argument will finally end.
Don't believe me? Doubt the truth of my words? Find a free black person (I think there's one in that big house on Pennsylvania Ave you could talk to.) . Ask a woman the last time she voted. Social change is always against the will of the majority...at first. But the majority is often old. And soon the old are overtaken by the young, who grew up without the prejudices of their elders. Or saw those prejudices and questioned them. Watch a teacher try to explain why integration was so difficult to a group of eight year-olds. It blows their little minds. They don't get it. Soon it will be the same with you. “Wait, Mr. Robertson. You're saying that people didn't want other people to get married because they were the same gender? That's crazy. My uncle is gay and we love his husband. They come over on Christmas.” It will happen.
You are dinosaurs, but you can feel the meteor coming. Oh, not all of you will be wiped out. Like alligators, there will be remains, few in numbers, snapping angrily at the mammals that are happily, gayly, dancing beyond your jaws.
So vote against gay marriage, civil unions, human rights. Veto it, protest it, wave your little signs and shout your silly slogans. Panic about “What will the children think!?!” and promise divine retribution upon those sinners who dare question your personal interpretation of whichever Book you believe in. Raise a stink and break a sweat. It gives the rest of us something to laugh at over morning coffee.
But it's already over. And you've lost. America is gay friendly. The Gay is spreading. It's on TV, in Oscar-winning movies, and in your CD player. Give it a decade, probably less, and there will be openly gay athletes in each of America's pastimes. They are already playing. You watch them and cheer for them. Soon one of them will speak out for gay marriage. And a little more of your base will crumble.
You will have a gay child, or a friend will. One way or another you'll be forced to see them as more than GAY. Against your will you'll begin to see them as HUMAN. And as that happens, as it continues to happen, you will see that the fight has been long over.
Or you'll stay angry and fearful as you get older, becoming more and more irrelevant. You'll rail feebly from your chair against the damn queers who ruined your country until you finally fade away. I don't expect you to wave the white flag and yield. That's not your style. I'd just rather you put on a white sheet and a pointy hood so it's easier to pick you out in a crowd. Until you and your kind become relics, fossils, and school children have a hard time believing you ever existed.
So please stop fighting it. Come into the light. It's nicer over here. And better decorated.
Love and Kisses,
The Land of the Free
Sunday, June 13, 2010
I'm going to skip past most of the Doug and Angela Wedding World Tour 2010 thus far, only saying that we left the day after school let out at 4am and haven't had much time off since until today. Whirlwind trip to Central and Southern California, both were fun, both needed more time. Planes, trains, and automobiles later we are now in Seattle and still just as busy. Which brings me to last weekend.
We had been planning on doing something this weekend, but plans were constantly evolving due to an inability to plan ahead and a broken father-in-law. After many drafts we decided to pack Stitches' sister into the rental and take the drive down to Portland, OR. Twofold reason: One, I've never been and Stitches has only been once briefly. Two, Brother Mike and his family moved to the area six months ago and it was a perfect chance to see them. Motel 6 was kind enough to leave the light on for us and down we went.
We left Seattle around 9:30am and arrived at our digs at 1:30pm or so. Traffic was easy until the bridge at the border (which I swam across, being part Mexican and all). Then we reoriented using maps, cell phone GPS, carrier pigeons, and blind guessing and found our way towards the MAX rail station nearest to us. Portland, you see, has an excellent public transport system. Light rail going in and out of town on a real regular schedule, and an all-zone all-day pass only $4.50 can't be beat. Better than driving around a city we don't know hoping to stumble into a parking garage that won't rob us.
We were into town by three, getting off the rail one stop before we planned on. Why, you ask. Simple, we looked out the window and saw a toy store and, as a group, shouted, "Toy Store!" and rushed for the door. It was fun. As has been my habit this trip I immediately located a sword (technically a light saber)and began threatening inanimate objects. I also found a pirate hat, becoming the dreaded Pirate Jedi, who's awesomeness is only trumped by the feared and extremely rare Ninja Jedi. Stitches bought me shark tattoos. Because I don't have enough of those already.
Once we tired of the shenanigans in the toy store we walked to Pioneer Square, which is where we were planning on getting off the rail anyway. It was close. We were hungry, having not eaten real food all day (contrary to popular belief Cheese-Its are not real food) and to what did our wandering eyes did appear? Street Meat! I first discovered this when I went to New York and now get it whenever I get a chance. A hot dog from some guy's cart on the side of the road? Yes please. We both got brats with sauerkraut, yum yum. Then it was off on an adventure. City hiking!
First stop? Chocolatier. Of course. Mmm, you want five dollars for a Kiss-sized piece of chocolate shaped like a mouse? Nice try. But they are neat looking. Then we went into a space shop that was pretty neat. I was attracted to a blend called Pirate's Bite. As soon as I picked it up the very very skinny lady behind the counter proudly assured me that it was the hottest thing they could make in the store. It is a devilish combination of peppers and other spice-like things. It made my tongue hurted. It tasted like burning. So I bought some for Kev.
Stitches' sister wanted to check out a consignment store for new boots, her's were talking, and Stitches used the magic of smart phone to find one. While she went in we saw a used book store across the street. We like used book stores. Oh, if we had only known. This is Powell's. It was not a small store. It was, in fact, the most wonderful place I've ever been in. Four stories. The size of a city block. You need a map and you will still get lost. And you won't care. I want to live inside the store. I quivered and made happy noises for an hour. It was wonderful. I went reverently into their rare books room. There I saw a first edition, second printing of Mark Twain's first novel, The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County for $2800. Squee! I held a $300 leather bound copy of Capote's Other Voices, Other Rooms. It was autographed. I made a happy noise when I saw that. I love this store.
The rest of the day was more of the same. The next day we met up with Mike, Terra, and their two and a half year-old Kai while Stitches was having Farmer's Market envy fits. She wanted to buy so many things. I see her spending money every weekend there if we lived there, loading us up on fresh veggies and whatnot. It was great to see them and we wandered the market and then down to the Arts and Crafts fair on the waterfront. That was neat, but we just wandered through without looking to closely. How we going to get anything home? But it got hot, which we weren't expecting. So I took off my shirt (it's not a trip unless I take of my shirt in public. Ask anyone.), divested myself of my bandanna and went for a run through the water squirting fountain flush with the sidewalk among children and parents cooling off. I squelched through the rest of the day but it was so worth it.
And here's one of the other things I really liked about Portland: the freaks. Hawaii does not have really freaky people. But the tattooed, dread-locked, hair-dyed, eccentrically dressed masses are out in force. I love that. I miss that. Weird people are so much fun. It means there is a strong music scene, and a strong indy scene, and just a strong freak scene. This makes places more interesting.
But the thing I took away from Portland more than anything else was how shocked I was at how much I enjoyed Portland. I did not expect to have as good a time there as I did. I can't wait to go back. It was surprising in the extreme. The people, the place is so clean, the public transportation is efficient...I really dug it. Blows me away.
(I said short at the outset. Was this short? I can never tell.)
Wednesday, April 14, 2010
The United States and Russia are in the midst of a nuclear arms deal that should result in both sides reducing the number of nukes they/we keep armed and ready. It's called the New Start pact and it's for the most part a response to Iran's program. Obama and Russian president Dmitri Medvedev choose to ignore some of the other problems each country has with the other and focus on the need of both to back up their talk about arms control.
This is undeniably a good thing. Taken from a recent article, here is the gist of the treaty:
“...each side within seven years would be barred from deploying more than 1,550 strategic warheads or 700 launchers. Because of counting rules and past reductions, neither side would have to eliminate large numbers of weapons to meet the new limits. But the treaty re-establishes an inspection regime that lapsed in December and could serve as a foundation for deeper reductions later.”
If the United States and Russia can work towards backing down our nuclear arsenals, that means that we are further along the back to being truly civilized and safe. Safe? you ask. Yes, safe.
From what I can find, current treaties allow for 2,200 warheads. And I looked and looked for a specific number, or good estimate, of how many warheads it would take to destroy the planet, or at least destroy enough of it that none of us would really care about the question any more, and couldn't find a good answer. Google failed me. Some numbers went between one hundred and one thousand, and one website, who took it very literally and did all the math said just over one million two hundred thousand.
Either way, the real answer to the previous question, “How many nukes will it take?” is very simple.
One nuke launched from any country towards any other country will precipitate a nuclear war. There is no denying this. If Russia, Pakistan, or anyone else decided they needed to make us glow in the dark, we would respond in kind. It would seem the only course of action. We must retaliate. Of course, we would then launch ours, someone else would get spooked and launch theirs and, well, the survivors get to find out which movie/video game got the post-holocaust look just right.
As a living person, this is unacceptable. I personally don't think the United States will ever again launch an attack on another country using a weapon of mass destruction (FYI: I broke a finger not making a 'frat boy cowboy' or 'gun-totin' Alaskan bimbo' joke here). Japan taught us enough about the power of those bombs, and I think it taught the rest of the world as well. You only have to act crazy, or desperate, like that once before people start believing the hype. And we aren't going to get into whether or not dropping those bombs was necessary at all. But, if we take what I believe to be true, that we will never again attack another country through nuclear means, then that means all those warheads, those 2,200+ warheads, are reactive. I say reactive because I think defensive would be a misnomer. They wouldn't be defending anything. They would be fighting back. It's not a block, its a punch.
So, assuming I've assumed correctly and we are slightly closer to civilized than we were in 1945, we have 2,200+ nuclear weapons waiting in case someone else attacks us so that we can attack them back. Does that seem a little extreme to anyone else? I've no doubt that's plenty enough to get the job done, not including what would be flying towards us.
The best way to deal with issues like this is to ignore it. What does it matter if I worry about this or not? And, really, it doesn't. But I think we should consider it. Why do we have such a massive stockpile of these super-heavy weapons? I may be a white-flag waving, lilly-livered, peacenik, civilian, but I just don't understand. What does it prove? That we're scary? Pretty sure everyone knows that already. We have the big guns, but we don't want to use them. Because we know, like Dr. Seuss teaches us in the Butter Battle Book, the other side has some pretty nasty shit too.
I shall now take a deep breath and step over the abyss I've been inching towards for 10 paragraphs. Why not get rid of all our nuclear weapons? Lay them all down. Make it public. Put it on CSPAN, BBC, Al Jazeera, and Youtube. Come one, come all. Watch the United States, the most powerful military on the planet, take its biggest weapon off of the table for good. Because we have decided, as a world leader, that we will never find the need to use one of these monsters. We will lead by example. We don't want you to have nukes, we don't want you to be afraid of our nukes and therefor stockpile your own, so we are removing the fear-inducing element.
Does this leave us helpless? I should hope not. I would venture to guess we have plenty of other assorted nastiness scattered about that losing our most destructive weapon would not equal neutering our armed forces. We've managed pretty well since 1945 without pushing and red buttons. The threat of that red button would be gone, however, leading us to question/fear number two. What's to stop someone who still has a nuclear bomb from attacking us now that we have none? The same this that's stopping them now: Nothing. In this day and age, when India and Pakistan are packing radioactive heat, the United States no longer has the biggest stick. We just have more sticks. They don't attack for the same reason we don't. Namely: nobody wants that. Except maybe fear/question number three: Terrorists. The concern that a terrorist organization gets a hold of a nuclear weapon and detonates it within American borders. But what if they do? Terrorists are not state-sponsored and nuclear weapons are notorious for their lack of precision and subtlety. We gonna drop a nuke on a cave in the desert? Or would we send in some SEALS to bring us back heads?
I realize this is Fantasyland thinking. I don't know when, if ever, we as a country, as a planet, as a species, will be secure enough with ourselves to let our more extreme forms of doom-bringing fall by the wayside. I do think that Obama and Medvedev have taken a strong first step in the right direction. Here's hoping the next leaders keep taking the next steps.
(I used the all knowing Google and tried to pick the reliable websites with no peer-editing.)
Tuesday, April 13, 2010
Oh yeah, and a group of funny brown-noses called themselves "Mr. Robertson Rox". That's right, with an x.
And the We-Just-Picked-Three-Words-At-Random winners are... Ninja Star Puppies. Which is still a better name than Coldplay.
Saturday, April 10, 2010
Anyway, I was watching some fat 11 year-old asian kid play Foghat and rocking out behind him. (It's a great song. "Slow Ride! Take it easy!") He noticed me after he finished the song and turned to me. "Hey, you want challenge me?"
I said, "Sorry man, no cash." Which was true. But on the inside I went, "Pffffft. I would so smoke your chubby ass on that game. Don't make me go ask my wife for a dollar."
Wednesday, March 31, 2010
"Suck it! Suck it! Suck it!'
I had to pause for a second to be sure I heard was I was hearing.
"It'll feel better if you suck it!"
Is he? No. Nah. He wouldn't tell another kid to..."Child. What did you say to him?"
The child looks at me. "I'm telling him to suck on it. He's got a paper cut on his hand and it'll feel better if he sucks on it, you know?"
"Oh. Yeah. Ok."
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
Friday, March 19, 2010
-The Wedding Singer
Adam Sandler owns the top spot of the wedding countdown? Hell yeah, this song is the romantic. On a slightly more important note: One More Day! Tomorrow at this time I will be married! Eep.
Thursday, March 18, 2010
Wednesday, March 17, 2010
Two different Kevin James movies in a row? Some people said it couldn't be done. Other said it shouldn't be done. But I done did it anyway! BAM! Can I go for three? (No, no, probably not. I don't think Paul Blart has a wedding thing in it. Really, Hitch was stretching it.)
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
-I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry
It's very soon. Which is good, because finding quotes is getting harder and harder.
Monday, March 15, 2010
Peter Graves died today. In his honor:
Tower voice: Flight 2-0-9er, you're cleared for takeoff.
Tower voice: L.A. departure frequency, 123 point 9er.
Victor Basta (navigator): Request vector, over.
Basta: Flight 2-0-9er cleared for vector 324.
Murdock: We have clearance, Clarence.
Oveur: Roger, Roger. What's our vector, Victor?
Tower voice: Tower's radio clearance, over!
Oveur: That's Clarence Oveur. Over.
Tower voice: Over.
Tower voice: Roger, over!
-The Wedding Singer
I swear I didn't sucker you all here just to run off to Vegas. Really. ...but that would have been dead funny.
Saturday, March 13, 2010
"Hmpf! As if that has anything to do with marriage. Do you suppose your father and I "like" each other?"
"Surely you must, a little."
"Of course not!"
Soon people begin to arrive. Soon the curtain goes up on this circus.
Friday, March 12, 2010
Now listen, lad. In twenty minutes you're getting married to a girl whose
father owns the biggest tracts of open land in Britain.
HERBERT: B-- but I don't want land.
FATHER: Listen, Alice,--
FATHER: 'Erbert. We live in a bloody swamp. We need all the land we can get.
HERBERT: But-- but I don't like her.
FATHER: Don't like her?! What's wrong with her?! She's beautiful. She's
rich. She's got huge... tracts o' land.
HERBERT: I know, but I want the-- the girl that I marry to have...
...a certain... special... something!
FATHER: Cut that out! Cut that out! Look, you're marrying Princess Lucky, so
you'd better get used to the idea!
-Monty Python and the Holy Grail
"What, the curtains?"
I went into Gamestop to pre-order the game this afternoon. I like Gamestop because they are all geeky and know everything about all the new games. It's like going into Guitar Center or a motorcycle shop. All these people do is sit around all day and talk about video games. Then they go home and play video games.
I wanted to have some fun in the store. Asking for things directly is boring. My job, as I see it, is to entertain this poor counter-slave. (By the way, I do this constantly in stores. My goal: They will go home and remember me. They will. They. Will.) So I walked up to the counter and the little girl back there asked what she can do for me.
"I seek vengeance upon the Gods."
She didn't blink, didn't hesitate. "God of War III comes out Tuesday but you can still preorder it. And we're having a midnight release so you can come back Monday at 11:30 and at midnight we'll give you the game."
I love people who justify my geekdom. Plus preordering there got me a special edition Phantom of Chaos skin. Then I went to 7-11 (on suggestion from the other nerd working the counter) and bought a Slurpee (which aren't as good as they were when we were 13), and with the code on the cup I can download another Kratos skin.
And yes, I think I'm going to end up at the midnight release. I may even cut Blades of Chaos out of cardboard and color them with crayons and wear my kilt.
Hehehe, my Blade of Chaos is all tingly.
Thursday, March 11, 2010
Wednesday, March 10, 2010
"You promised you'd be nice."
"No, I said I'd do my best. That's hardly a promise.
-Kill Bill Vol. 2
I forgot there was a wedding scene in this. I guess it's not really a wedding scene though. I'll let The Bride explain, "Now, the incident that happened at the Two Pines Wedding Chapel that put this whole gory story into motion, has since become legend. 'Massacre At Two Pines'. That's what the newspapers called it. The local TV news called it, 'The El Paso, Texas, Wedding Chapel Massacre'. How it happened, who was there, how many got killed and who killed them - changes depending on who's telling the story. In actual fact, the massacre didn't happen during a wedding at all. It was a wedding rehearsal."
Tuesday, March 9, 2010
Monday, March 8, 2010
Saturday, March 6, 2010
We seem to be approaching our Mel Brooks quota. Can she hold together?
Friday, March 5, 2010
Thursday, March 4, 2010
-Father of the Bride
That's two for Steve Martin, who is a genius. So many good parts to this movie, but lots of them are not short quotes, they are long, long, hilarious monologues and conversations. I may slip another in, I'm not sure yet.
Wednesday, March 3, 2010
-The Wedding Singer
This scene has to be one of the funniest things Adam Sandler has ever put on film. After he was done being stupid = funny but before he decided he wanted to be a real actor. Don't you hate it when really funny people turn their back on comedy because they think doing drama makes them "real" actors? Comedy is way harder than drama.
Tuesday, March 2, 2010
Monday, March 1, 2010
Another Olympics has taken a bow and headed to the kiss and cry area to await judgment. So, like a short track speed skating official, I will dispense rulings and opinions which only occasionally make sense.
· Canadians are the nicest people on the planet. You cannot convince me otherwise. There is a video on Youtube posted by some Canadians that found some tourist’s video camera. They took a clip of the video and posted it with a note telling the owner how to get in touch with them so they can return the lost item. Mull that for a second. Picture a random anyone, anywhere else doing that.
· Canada is beautiful. I loved it when I went, I loved watching it on TV. Especially since they didn’t have much snow. Haha.
· Their attempt at national pride was so cute. All the flags and maple leaves. Bursting into O’ Canada (which is a great song, I want to learn it). They should watch Americans closer if they really want to get the annoying home-field nationalism going. The Olympic fail to start the games, and then coming back huge at the end. The Great One.
· I don’t like Lindsey Vonn. She’s my least favorite winter athlete. She’s annoying. I like it when these athletes cry (more on that later), but she had tears going every single time they stuck a mic in her face. And she was always hurt! Always fighting through something. Or tumbling down the mountain. (And don’t come back at me with, “Let’s see you do what she does.” I’m not in the Olympics. It’s not my job. I wasn’t on the cover of SI twice.)
· Mancuso couldn’t hate Vonn more if she caught Vonn buggering her father with a ski pole. I hate the fake teammate thing. Look in Mancuso’s eyes every time some interviewer asks her about Vonn. You see flames.
· On that note, am I the only one who got a Very Brady Vibe from the two of them? I imagine Mansuco flouncing down on her bed back in the village after the Downhill crying, “Marsha, Marsha, Marsha!” Think about it. I’m right, you know it.
· Let’s make this clear right now: Apolo Ohno is not the greatest Winter Olympian ever. Bonnie Blair is. He is simply the most decorated. And he has the best name.
· I have reasons. Short track is stupid. How many races ended with a crash or disqualification affecting the outcome? How many medals would he have if the judging of the sport made any sense at all? I watched a ton of these races. What kind of touch equals a DQ?
· Even he admits his sport doesn’t make any sense. When his response to questions about the sport are, “Well, that’s short track,” that’s like saying, “It’s just Manny being Manny.” It means I have no good answer and this is dumb.
· I feel so bad for the Dutch kid who lost his gold because of his coach. That’s one of the worst thing I’ve ever seen in sport. But the kid didn’t fire his coach. He said, I’ve got this many world championships with this guy, this many records. I’m staying with him. It’s a massive mistake, but I can’t leave my coach. That’s awesome. And it makes me hate Brett Farve even more.
· I’m on the bandwagon. Like 90% of Americans, White is my favorite Winter Olympian. He’s charismatic, quick, talented, and funny. Plus he throws some of the coolest stuff I’ve ever seen.
· He was my favorite interview of the Games. Colbert interviewed him and compared his sport being judged to figure skating, and why didn’t snow boarders cry while they were waiting? White’s response? (I paraphrase) “They’re probably upset they got all dressed up like that and they might not even win.” Classic! Watch it here: http://www.colbertnation.com/the-colbert-report-videos/264538/february-22-2010/shaun-white
· Deep breaths. Wow. What a game. Gold medal games should feature a goal scored in the final 23 seconds and an overtime five-hole for the win. It reminded me what a great sport hockey is and how much I miss it.
· How cool is the NHL that they let their players off for two weeks to play in the Games? How cool are NHL players that they would do that? More hockey coverage!
· I only want to say that anyone making a fuss over the women’s hockey team celebration is an icehole.
· Needs to happen more than once every four years. I don’t have a good reason why I like this sport so much. I started watching this year as a joke and got sucked in. These people are intense.
· Plus, how can you not love steel-eyed women shouting, “Hurry! Hard!” at each other?
· I would go to a rink and play this. I would watch it. We need an ACL (American Curling League) like, now. They couldn’t do any worse than the NHL for a TV deal.
· It took me about 15 ends to get the game pretty much figured out. Longer than baseball (which is the simplest game on the planet), not as long as football (where the refs need to look up rules mid-game). That makes me kind of proud. I’m smart enough to figure out Curling. I need a t-shirt.
· The G.L.O.C. (Gorgeous Ladies Of Curling). Don’t deny the hotness. Speaking of which…
· Women Bobsledders are hot. No, I don’t have a good reason for this. No it’s not the lying on top on one another in the sled thing. It’s just something about super-intense, super-strong women getting all geeked up like they do right before the start. It’s hot. Leave me alone.
· Olympic announcers are quality. Better than most other sports. They give good, relevant information on sports I don’t know. Mostly.
· Except for when they have Announcer Fail. AF is one of my favorite things. It’s when the announcer says, “She’s really on her game today,” as the skier pinwheels into the netting. When they praise the figure skater’s poise for 45 straight seconds and then the poor little thing wobbles and slide across the ice. It’s hilarious.
· Two words: Scott Hamilton. Favorite announcer not named Bob. He cried at least twice during the ice skating competitions. Once when Lysacek finished his short program and once when Joannie Rochette finished hers. There may have been more. This was different than Vonn’s crying. He was truly touched by what he saw on the ice. He was one of the best and they moved him to tears, one because of his skill and passion and the other because of what she had to fight through to make that skate. He’s a classic. I want him to announce more things.
- When an athlete is not American we should get to listen to the feed from the athlete’s country of origin with subtitles. It would be awesome to hear other languages getting so home-team excited. I’m going to make my point with having you imagine some guy screaming German during a bobsled, or Korean during short track. It would be awesome.
Figure skating costumes
· One quick thing I stole from ESPN.com. They should have a national identifier on their costumes somewhere. Johnny Weir can be as floofy as he wants, as pink and lacey and tassled. But there should be a flag on the shoulder. Every other athlete has something that tells you at first glance who they compete for. The Olympics is a global competition. You represent your country, you should be identified. Otherwise every one is some Asian something or some European looking something. Give me a flag. Or national colors only.
· I love the Olympics. I get so caught up in it. The biggest reason is not the American pride. It’s the athletes. They are different from the guys I watch play baseball or football. Yeah, when they win the championship it’s a big thing (see Orleans, New), but they’re getting paid win or lose. This is their job. But most Winter Olympians have a real job. They work around it. They train and work and train some more. They pay their own way. No one knows you if you’re a bobsled driver, a ski jumper, a figure skater. We don’t care. Except once every four years. Then you get to be Drew Bries. You get to be Kobe.
· And that’s why I love their celebrations. I love watching them sing the national anthem when the flag is raised during the medal ceremony. I love seeing them cry when they look at the scoreboard and realize Holy Crap, I’m still first!!! It’s not their job. They do it for the love. I realize Sean White isn’t one of those people. He’s an X-Games star and huge rich. But he threw down the run of the Games when he could have ridden right down the middle of the half-pipe for the gold. That’s the Love of the Sport.